As you know, I’ve been writing Birth Stories regularly on this blog because I treasure these stories and writing them reinforces the love I have for attending births. Anything I can do to reinforce this love is a good thing, because it is physically arduous and mentally exhausting to accompany women through labor and delivery. As the Birth Stories have gained readership, a number of midwives, home birth advocates and doulas have read this blog and left their comments. They join an audience of doctors, medical students, nurses, and laypeople who share a fascination for the experience of birth.
The growing diverse interest in the Birth Stories makes this a good time to introduce a new post series on my own childbirth philosophy. In this series I aim to set down the principles guiding my childbirth practices, how they were developed, and anticipate how my principles may differ from those of other individuals and groups. With respect to these differences, I must emphasize that what I'm trying to do here is represent one woman's views and actions when it comes to attending women during pregnancy, labor and birth. It is not my goal to impose my beliefs and practices on other birth attendants and advocates. However, I think it is valuable for all of us to set down our philosophy in writing so that we can develop a better understanding of where our philosophies come from and what their weaknesses are. By writing about my philosophy publicly, rather than in my personal journal, I'm also committing to it at a social/interpersonal level, opening it up to criticism and debate. I think this is a good thing to do, and I hope other birth advocates do the same thing.
There is a larger purpose to my writing this series. I want to enlarge the dialogue about childbirth practices on the Web. Much of what is written on the Internet reflects a polarity of belief I do not believe represents the vast middle ground of most women's experience. I am part of that middle ground, and I'd like to see more real dialogue and less sensationalism on the subject of childbirth practices and alternatives. I'd like to see some of the gray areas defined, including areas of discomfort to me personally, among these practices and initiate some problem-solving to improve communication between lay and professional birth attendants. Finally, I'd like to rehabilitate the image of doctors participating in maternity care, and the experience of a hospital birth. If you read the Birth Stories you'll see our Labor & Delivery unit is very different than some of the dispassionate, tech-superior experiences used as symbols of the hospital experience. There is more middle ground here, you see.
This post series will address the following topics:
- My training in obstetrics in medical school and residency
- The economics of providing pregnancy services, from the point of view of a rural family doctor
- A snapshot of our Labor & Delivery unit, and how it represents a middle ground between extremes in perception of birth experiences
- A brief demographic profile of the women in our prenatal panel
- The role of the family doctor in providing pregnancy care
- Some personal aspects of my life coloring my approach to pregnancy care
- Finally, my philosophy and practice style during the prenatal, intrapartum, puerperium and postpartum periods
At the end of this series, I'll discuss a big project I'm starting which will take me deeper into the subject of childbirth practices. I hope this series will be of use to everyone who reads the Birth Stories and who is interested in furthering dialogue about these issues.